Wednesday, August 10, 2011

June Carbone and Naomi Cahn on Economic Stress and Fragmentation of Families

June Carbone and Naomi Cahn at Huffington Post today incisively analyze the link between fragmentation of families, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and economic stress.  In dismantling social safety networks painstakingly crafted over a number of years in the U.S., and in creating the economic conditions under which more and more people lack work, the political and religious right assault the American family--even as they loudly proclaim that protecting the family is their guiding principle:

Because the "sorry state of marriage" in the United States isn't the declining number of married couple households. Instead, the sad truth is that just like access to health care, stable employment, and higher education, access to marriage has become a class-based affair. The Economist correctly observes that marriage and the two-parent family has become a marker of income level. According to the National Marriage Project, a half century ago, marriage rates did not vary much by education, and college educated women were less likely to marry than those without college degrees. Today, the likelihood of marrying, staying married, and raising children within marriage correlates strongly with education. Indeed, for white college graduates the non-marital birth rate has stayed at 2%; for African American high school dropouts, it's 96%. In between is a steeply slanted line that links family form to education, income, and race.

Pro-family and pro-life American Catholics and evangelical Protestants who have bought into the economic ideology that now totally dominates all agendas of the Republican party have been duped.  They've been duped when they've let themselves be convinced by the economic taskmasters setting these agendas that these taskmasters and their ruthless, self-serving economic principles are all about strengthening American families.

It is beyond cruel to blame economically deprived people for their inability to form healthy, lasting, stable families.  If we really care about strengthening the institution of the family, we'll demand more equitable distribution of wealth in our nation, the creation of jobs for everyone, access to sound education for everyone, and strong social safety networks for those who are struggling to keep afloat.

The picture should enlarge if you click on it, enabling you to read the sign in the saxophone case.

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